Sunday, 3 June 2007


Dear Ian

I read the article about adverts being misleading to the public (Sept 28th edition). Sometimes adverts can be amusing and on the whole generally harmless as long as the public keep a bit of common sense and can see the advert for what it is, - a means of getting you to buy something that you do not necessarily need, or really want for that matter.

There are instances where omissions of the truth and withheld information can be very damaging, especially in my case of being a vegetarian. I constantly have to watch my food intake because of added animal products in so called vegetarian food.

Most multi national burger bars are switching to all-vegetable oil to cook their fries. The reason was to reduce the saturated fat content of their food, which is bad for the heart. Previously some fries were cooked with beef tallow. Tallow is appetisingly referred to in the dictionary as, "Hard fat obtained from parts of the bodies of cattle, sheep or horses, and used in foodstuffs or to make candles, leather dressing, soap and lubricants." Yum.

The problem for one of the companies was that the veggie-oil cooked fries didn't taste like their popular tallow-cooked fries, which they solved by including a beef flavouring at the time of preprocessing for distribution (not while being cooked in the restaurant). Under the US government's food guidelines, they were allowed to label this beef flavouring as "natural flavour," which it is of course but out of animal’s internal organs. But because of the hype over the switch to vegetable oil for frying, vegetarians assumed—and this one particular company did not try to dissuade--that the fries were now vegetarian. The conclusion of a recent court case against the burger giant gave vegetarian and religious groups a ten million dollar windfall and left a lot of people with a nasty taste in their mouths. Just as a matter of interest the company still cooks with the beef flavouring in their fries.

Yours G Hallowell Derry


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